WHEN I wrote an open letter to the Coordinating Minister in Charge of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, over appointments to some top positions, it was, to me, simply the continuation of an age-old hobby that I developed since my student days in the university.
I write with the purest of intentions not to malign anyone. I respect characters in my writings and readers’ views.
It was through my opinion and feature writings that I won some awards in the university and the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, at state and national levels.
Though I deferred an admission offered to me by the University of Nigeria Nsukka to pursue a Masters programme in PR after I was honoured with automatic scholarship for being the best writer during the NYSC, I accepted automatic employments by both the Delta State Government and the Federal Government in 1993 and 1994, respectively.
In my letter of acceptance, I reflected that I would continue to write opinion articles that will be geared towards making Nigeria a better society, that every Nigerian will be proud of. My experiences with great Igbos, Itshekiris and Urhobos formed the fulcrum of my early write-ups during my youth service and after I started work at the Government House, Asaba.
Their leaders, who took me as their son, protected and provided for my needs. Prof. Chike Edozien, the Asagba of Asaba, Chief Paulinus Akpeki and Ugoh of Okpe Kingdom were among some of the great people who made my youth service year and work experience a worthwhile adventure in Delta State.
When I moved to the Federal Civil Service, I never stopped writing. In fact most of my deployments to different offices were largely influenced by my enthusiasm for generating news items, issuing press releases and producing well-informed features.
As a Nigerian and a public official, I have always been conscious of my responsibility to ensure that the general public perceives government in a good light. I have strived to be a good ambassador of the government and people of Nigeria. I performed my roles with the best of intentions.
My writings can be divided into two major categories: official and unofficial. A careful perusal of my writings in the media will show that I sign the first category in my capacity as information/PR officer of the different places that I have been posted to.
In the second category, I have been careful to make it clear that I write in my personal capacity as a private citizen. To make that point even clearer I affix my personal home address or email to personal opinions.
Since my employment, I have published books, issued over 2000 news releases, wrote news features and personal opinions, all in my bid to promote the activities of government and contribute to the peaceful coexistence of the diverse groups in the country. Most of my writings are accessible on my blog: www.yashuaib.com.
The recent article, which generated a lot of reactions and comments, was not done to malign anyone. Incidentally, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a personality I have a lot of admiration and respect for. I believe that she is aware of this.
And so, when I put pen to paper in what has become routine to me to express my viewpoints on some recent appointments into top positions in her ministry, I never expected that it would be perceived negatively. It was to draw her attention to the strong speculations making the rounds which, in my view, she is not only capable of addressing but would do well to be aware of.
Maybe I should add here that during the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration in which Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was also an influential member, I wrote some critical opinion articles on the activities of the President, Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Nasir el-Rufai, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, among others. During the short-lived administration of President Umaru Yar’Adua, I x-rayed some of the President’s policies and those of Segun Adeniyi, his spokesman.
Mr. YUSHAU SHUAIB, a public affairs commentator, wrote from Abuja.